Figures in the Life of David

Major Characters (these appear at various points in David’s life.)

  • Samuel (God has heard) – judge of the people and prophet of God, anoints Saul as king but later announces that the kingdom will be taken from Saul and given to someone worthy. Anoints David as the new king and helps to protect him from Saul.
  • Saul (asked/prayed for) – King of Israel who is eventually rejected by God for disobedience. Fears and resents David, and pursues him so as to kill him. Dies in battle with his sons.
  • Jonathan (the Lord has given) – son of Saul who is loyal to David because of their great friendship.
  • David (beloved) – son of Jesse who is a shepherd and musician. Becomes king of Judah, and then of all of Israel.
  • Michal (brook?) – daughter of Saul who professes her love for David. Later given to another man, then taken back again by David.
  • Ahimelech the priest and his son Abiathar (brother of the king; my father is great) – Ahimelech helps David as he is fleeing from Saul, and is thus executed along with his family. Abiathar escapes and becomes a priest for David.
  • Abner (my father is light) – commander of Saul’s armies, killed by Joab even though he changes sides after Saul’s death to serve David
  • Joab (the LORD is my father) – son of Zuriah and commander of David’s armies.
  • Abishai and Azahel – (gift of the father?; made by God) brothers of Joab, sons or Zeruiah. Azahel is killed in battle, but Abishai remains a key military figure throughout the life of David.
  • Achish (anger?) – Philistine lord in Gath. David feigns madness to escape being take captive by him, but later returns and pledges his loyalty. Achish trusts David completely but the other Philistine lords do not.
  • Ish-Bosheth (man of shame) – (grand)son of Saul who is made king by Abner when Saul dies. Killed shortly after by two of his commanders, who were executed by David as a result.
  • Mephibosheth (dispeller of shame) – son of Jonathan son of Saul. Crippled man who is shown great kindness by David.
  • Ziba (station?) – servant of Mephibosheth who takes care of his estate, but later betrays Mephibosheth and ends up with half of his wealth.
  • Nathan (he gave) – prophet of God who gives David some of the best and some of the worst news he ever receives.
  • Bathsheba (daughter of the oath) – wife of Uriah who David covets and takes for his own, after he has Uriah killed, he marries her.
  • Uriah the Hittite (the LORD is my light) – mighty man of David who is killed in order to cover up David’s adultery with his wife.
  • Solomon/Jedidiah (peace/beloved of the LORD) – son of David by Bathsheba, who becomes a great and prosperous king after David dies.
  • Absalom (my father is peace) – Son of David who kills Amnon for raping his sister Tamar. Sent into exile but later allowed to return, he rebels against David and is temporarily successful at taking Israel from David.
  • Tamar (palm tree) – daughter of David and sister of Absalom who is raped by Amnon.
  • Amnon (faithful) – son of David who rapes Tamar and is killed in revenge by Absalom.
  • Ahithophel the Gilonite (brother of foolishness) – David’s advisor, who serves Absalom during the rebellion.
  • Cherethites and Pelethites – 600 men who leave Gath of the Philistines to follow David for the rest of his days.
  • Ittai the Gittite (with me) – foreigner who pledges loyalty to David and becomes a friend and a leader of his armies.
  • Zadok and Abiathar (righteous; my father is great) – priests for David who remain faithful to him when Absalom rebels.
  • Ahimaaz and Jonathan (brother of the council?; the LORD has given) – sons of Zadok and Abiathar who serve as secret messengers to alert David of Absalom’s plans.
  • Hushai the Archite (enjoyment?) – David’s friend and counselor who foils the advice of Ahithophel during Absalom’s rebellion.
  • Gad (fortune, luck) – a prophet of God who helps David flee from Saul, and later gives him bad news concerning the census he carried out.

Minor Characters (these are often extremely important, but  are not recorded to have played a significant role in multiple different events throughout David’s life.)

  • Jesse (gift?) – father of David.
  • Goliath (uncover, unveil?) – giant Philistine who is slain by David with the help of the LORD.
  • Abinadab, Malchi-shua (father of a vow; my king saves) – sons of Saul, brothers of Jonathan. They all die in battle together.
  • Nabal (fool, senseless, failure) – worthless fellow who refuses to provide for David’s men despite the protection they provide his flocks.
  • Abigail (my father is joy) – wife of Nabal who wisely averts disaster and becomes David’s wife when Nabal dies.
  • Doeg the Edomite (careful, fearful, uneasy) – servant of Saul who kills Ahimelech and the other prophets for helping David to flee.
  • Medium at En-Dor – a woman who can communicate with spirits, who helps Saul to call up Samuel.
  • Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab (strength; brother) – they help to transport the ark to Jerusalem, but when Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark he is struck dead.
  • ObedEdom (servent of Edom) – the ark is temporarily stored at the house of Obed-Edom and his whole household is blessed.
  • Hanun, son of Nahash king of Ammonites (gracious, merciful, favored) – becomes king after his father; needlessly provokes David to war and it does not go well for him.
  • David’s unnamed child – dies because of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
  • Jonadab (God gives liberally/impels) – David’s nephew. A “shrewd” man who convinces Amnon to rape Tamar.
  • Wise woman of Tekoa – put up by Joab to convince David to allow Absalom to come back from exile. She succeeds.
  • Woman at En-Rogel – hides Ahimaaz and Jonathan and thus helps David escape Absalom.
  • Shimei, son of Gera (hear, listen, obey) – curses David when he flees from Absalom. David promises not to seek retribution, so Solomon executes him after coming into power.
  • Chimham (longing?) – returns to Israel in place of his master, Barzillai.
  • Amasa (burden?) – serves as a commander for David after the rebellion by Absalom, but is slothful and risks David’s position, and is thus killed by Joab
  • Sheba, son of Bichri (oath) – challenger to David’s throne who seeks refuge in Abel.
  • Wise woman at Abel – avoids the destruction of Abel by throwing the head of Sheba son of Bichri down to Joab.
  • Gibeonites – Have seven of Saul’s descendants hanged as retribution of Saul’s violation of their covenant with Israel.
  • Rizpah the daughter of Aiah (coal, hot stone) – mourns for the descendants of Saul and watches after their remains.
  • Barzillai the Gileadite (man of iron) – friend of David who helps him when he flees from Absalom.
  • Araunah the Jebusite (ark, song, strong?) – owns the threshing floor where David sacrifices to the LORD after the pestilence sent by God.
  • Abishag the Shunammite (my father wanders) – beautiful young woman who attends to David in his old age. A point of contention between David’s sons Solomon and Adonijah.
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (son of the LORD) – one of David’s mighty men, who helps him ensure that Solomon succeeds him as king.
  • Adonijah the son of Haggith – (the LORD is master) seeks to become king in place of Solomon when David is old, but fails and is put to death by Solomon shortly after.
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Life of David – overview with Psalms

This table is intended to serve as an overview of the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel and the psalms that he wrote which speak to events in his life.

“Psalms direct” refers to psalms that are directly attributed to particular events in David’s life in their headings.
“Psalms apparent” refers to psalms that I believe strongly correlate with particular events or the themes within them.
“Psalms additional” are other psalms of David that speak on similar themes.

It should be noted that there is some amount of subjectivity regarding what events certain undesignated psalms most directly relate to, and also that the historical dates given are not universally agreed upon.  I included them just as a rough guide of the passage of time throughout the account of his life.

Week

Scripture

Probable Date Event Psalms direct Psalms apparent Psalms additional Occasion of Psalm
1 1 Sam. 16 1024 BC Samuel Anoints David at Bethlehem   23, 19 8 David as a shepherd
1 1 Sam. 17 1024 BC David Kills Goliath   36 9 On the victory over Goliath
2 1 Sam. 18 1015 BC Jonathan’s Friendship with David   11   When David was advised to flee Saul
2 1 Sam. 19 1014 BC David Protected from Saul 59     On Saul surrounding the house of David
2 1 Sam. 20 1013 BC David and Jonathan’s Covenant        
3 1 Sam. 21 1012 BC David at Nob and Gath 56; 34     David with Philistines at Gath; On David’s leaving the city of Gath
3 1 Sam. 22 1011 BC Saul Slays the Priests of Nob 142;52   17, 35, 64, 109, 140 David in the cave at Adullam; On the murder of the priests by Doeg and the following persecution
3 1 Sam. 23 1011 BC David Flees Saul 54 31   Betrayal by Ziphites; Persecution by Saul
4 1 Sam. 24 1011 BC David Spares Saul’s Life 57;63   58 On David’s refusal to kill Saul in the cave; prayer of David in wilderness of Engedi
4 1 Sam. 25 1011 BC Samuel Dies; Nabal and Abigail        
4 1 Sam. 26 1011 BC David Spares Saul a Second Time        
5 1 Sam. 27 1010 BC David Flees to the Philistines   141   Prayer of David when driven from Judea
5 1 Sam. 28 1010 BC Saul and the Witch of Endor        
6 1 Sam. 29 1010 BC Achish Sends David Away        
6 1 Sam. 30 1010 BC David Destroys the Amalekites   22   David is in distress, but trusts God
7 1 Sam. 31 1010 BC Saul and His Sons Killed        
7 2 Sam. 1 1010 BC David Mourns for Saul and Jonathan Song of the Bow (in the text)      
8 2 Sam. 2 1010 BC David Made King over Judah; Civil War Between Abner and Joab   101   David will strive to be a good king
8 2 Sam. 3 1006 BC House of David Strengthened; Joab murders Abner        
8 2 Sam. 4 1004 BC The Murder of Ish-bosheth        
8 2 Sam. 5 1003 BC David Reigns over All Israel   40 139 Prayer of David when made king over all Israel
9 2 Sam. 6 1000 BC The Ark is Brought to Jerusalem 30, 1 Chronicles 16 68   On the return of the ark to Jerusalem
9 2 Sam. 7 1000 BC David Plans a Temple   2, 110 16, 61 On the delivery of the promise by Nathan to David
10 2 Sam. 8 998 BC David Defeats the Philistines 60 133 108 On the conquest of Edom; Israel united
10 2 Sam. 9 995 BC David and Mephibosheth        
10 2 Sam. 10 995 BC David Defeats Ammon and Aram   20 21 On the war with the Ammonites and their allies
11 2 Sam. 11 993 BC David and Bathsheba   32 33 On the pardon of David’s adultery
11 2 Sam. 12 991 BC Nathan Rebukes David; Solomon is born 51 38   Confession of David after his adultery
12 2 Sam. 13 990 BC Amnon and Tamar; Amnom Killed by Absalom        
12 2 Sam. 14 988 BC The Widow of Tekoa; Absalom Recalled   103    
13 2 Sam. 15 976 BC Absalom’s Conspiracy; David Flees Jerusalem 3 70 4, 5 On Absalom’s rebellion and David’s flight from Absalom
13 2 Sam. 16 972 BC David and Ziba, Shimei   131 7 On the reproaches of Shimei
13 2 Sam. 17 972 BC Hushai’s Warning Saves David   41, 55   Treachery of Ahithophel
14 2 Sam. 18 972 BC Absalom Slain by Joab   143   During the war with Absalom
14 2 Sam. 19 972 BC Joab Comforts David        
15 2 Sam. 20 972 BC Sheba Rebels Against David   37   Sheba’s rebellion foiled
15 2 Sam. 21 970 BC The Gibeonites Avenged        
16 – Wed 2 Sam. 22 970 BC David’s Song of Deliverance 18 (in text)     On the conclusion of David’s wars
16 – Wed 2 Sam. 23 970 BC David’s Last Song last song (in text)      
16 2 Sam. 24 970 BC David Counts the Fighting Men        
16 1 Kings 1 970 BC David’s Last Days   145   David, when old, reviewing his past life
16 1 kings 2 970 BC David dies, Solomon Cleans House